Sturgill Simpson’s work could serve as a handy comparison between the country genre and the bluegrass subgenre. When making Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, Simpson pulls songs from his earlier country albums and gives them a bluegrass spit shine. Listen to “All Around You” on Cuttin’ Grass, versus listening to the same song on A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, and the festive upbeat nature of bluegrass shines through on the new rendition.
Sturgill Simpson has been bouncing around genres as of late. Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions is simply the latest break from form. His last album, Sound & Fury, is a rock and roll roller coaster that rode in with groovy swagger and tore rubber speeding towards trouble. The accompanying samurai-infused anime of the same name appeared on Netflix to further cement this deviation into the awesomely weird. Rather than make a follow-up rock album, Simpson took a half-step back towards country, but through an entirely new aesthetic to shake up the Simpson experience.
Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions is a product of COVID-19. Having survived a bout with the virus and spending most of 2020 at his home in South Tennessee, Simpson decided to reinvent himself once again with a little help from his friends. After assembling a team of bluegrass greats, imagine the Avengers in double denim and a strand of wheat between their teeth, Simpson adapted a large swath of his earlier country music to bluegrass stylings. All in all, Cuttin’ Grass took three days of recording since the bones of most songs were already well known by the artists. With the messy work of preparing out of the way, Simpson and crew let the music flow.
No matter how you discovered Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions, there is something in this album for you. For those with little knowledge of bluegrass, it is an outsider friendly introduction to the genre. For long-time Sturgill Simpson fans, Cuttin’ Grass is yet another example of his musical talents as he continues to take his skills in any direction his fancies.